When I walked out on Waymaker in January 1997–early in the second semester of my freshman year–I had a hunch that as bad as they were, they were actually far worse than I suspected. After all, they knew I didn’t buy what they were selling. I believed they were hiding things from me until I became the Darrell they wanted me to be–er, the Darrell God wanted me to be. But what I did see was enough that even now, two decades later, it still makes me retch to think about the things I would have had to condone and accept to become one of them.
That hunch was confirmed in part with the Waymakers’ response when I told them that Pastor Ron had been lying to them almost from day one. He’d been hiding his past in a notorious campus cult when there was no possible good-faith reason for him to do so. And yet, their response was, in so many words, “So what?” After all, in their minds, people were being saved–and that was all that mattered. And to think I would have had to accept that had I drunk the Kool-Aid–er, new wine?
I received further confirmation when I burrowed back into that bunch in December 1997. Supposedly, my intellect had made me run away from God. What’s more, my rational mind couldn’t understand simple truths. Throw that in with my sinful nature, and that was all that was keeping me from being a good Spirit-filled Christian. If your head is spinning, don’t feel bad. Even now, thinking about how I saw this much claptrap in a short period of time makes my head spin as well.
But even as bad as they were, I never even suspected that Waymaker’s campus ministers would condone attempts to frame up someone who spoke out against them. That was the best-case explanation for the radio silence I was getting from them after learning that several of my former “sisters” had complained about me.
Remember, I’d assumed that they wouldn’t have escalated things this far unless there was something written. But the only written communication I’d had with them that year was a series of emails in which I’d told them off–all the way back in August.
I would have understood if Morgan Bates, Aaron Levinson and Rita Handler had felt it would have been derelict not to report this. There are cases where harassment is a “shoot first, ask questions later” situation. But it was beyond belief they would forget the “ask questions” part–if only to cover both themselves and KPIC legally. After all, by going on Waymaker’s behalf, they were acting as agents of KPIC–which put both them and their church in deep legal doo-doo if this turned out to be false.
I knew they were oblivious to the legal ramifications of their continued loyalty to Pastor Ron. But this was another matter altogether. While they could have explained their continued willingness to do Pastor Ron’s bidding out of a twisted sense of doing good, they could not explain what was, at best, a reckless disregard for the truth. It sent the message that, at the very least, they condoned this behavior. The possibility that they even thought this was okay sent a chill down my spine.
Now how could you get worse than that, you ask? Well, I was starting to wonder if my initial visceral reaction when I learned of these accusations wasn’t so outlandish after all. While I was recovering from the initial shock, my first thought was, “Those three bastards orchestrated this!” But I didn’t think even they would stoop that low–if only to protect themselves and KPIC legally.
But when I considered that there was no possible good-faith reason for them not to at least try to diffuse the situation, I had to wonder–was it because they didn’t expect me to defend myself? Plus, of all the ways they could have found to frame me up, they picked one of the few for which, at least on paper, they could have explained why they did what they did–no matter how outrageous it was? I at least had to wonder if this went beyond something the rank-and file “sisters” could have done on their own.
But even if Morgan, Aaron and Rita hadn’t orchestrated this, I knew that at the very least they were disengaged in a way that leaders of a student organization at a university simply could not be. Which meant, at best, this was an unacceptable and dangerous failure of leadership.
So by the time I went to bed on Sunday night, I was in no mood to be merciful. If this was playing out the way I thought it was playing out, I was going to insist on filing charges of my own. After all, if the campus ministers condoned framing people up like this, they and their church needed to be taken down–and taken down hard.